I had a client ask me an interesting question the other day: “What do you know about losing weight?” Talk about getting right to the point.
“A lot,” I told her. And then I went over a few key components that support healthy weight loss like strength training, drinking plenty of water and getting plenty of sleep, and eating the right foods in the right amounts.
A more truthful answer would’ve been that, yes, I know a lot about losing weight, but I also know a lot about gaining weight. I’ve done both, and I’ve seen people do both. Neither one is particularly complicated. And the truth is, most people know whether their daily behaviors are going to lead to weight loss or weight gain. Sometimes, we don’t do a very good job of practicing the habits that will get us the result that we want.
One of the biggest mistakes is letting the number on the scale be the only measurement of our success. Here are a few other ways to measure your progress:
Take progress photos. I recommend that my clients take progress photos monthly when they get on the scale. This provides a three-dimensional metric to the amount of mass in your body.
Here are a couple of tips to get proper photos.
1- for women, wear a sports bra and shorts. Men shorts and shirtless.
2- Take three pictures: from the front, back and side. This way, you can see changes in your body that may not show up on the scale.
3- Don’t suck in your belly or cover the areas you don’t like. Let them show. I know it’s hard, I have done this. But use this as motivation.
Plan ahead. If you’re constantly forced to wing it with your food and exercise, you’re going to set yourself up for failure. I recommend using a written planner to map out your workout plans and food choices for the next day or if you can, the week. You’ll feel a lot more in control, and will be more likely to follow through.
Recognize and record how you feel. I recommend ranking your energy level on a scale of 1-5 each morning and writing it down.
A score of 5 would indicate that you’re ready to go out and kick the world’s butt; a score of 1 would mean that you want to hit snooze and crawl back into bed. If you see a few consecutive scores of 3 or less, it’s a clear indication that something needs to change.
Making a pact with yourself to go to bed an hour earlier, taking some time for a stress-relieving activity (like yoga, meditation, or a massage), or getting back into the habit of taking your daily vitamins and supplements will turn those 2’s and 3’s into 4’s and 5’s.
Be patient. Getting on the scale every morning will expose you to the natural fluctuations in your body weight, which will drive you crazy!
Achieving your ideal body and health is a cumulative journey, not a daily sprint. Sometimes, we need to get off the rollercoaster in order to enjoy the ride.
At the end of the day, one of the most important things I know about losing weight is that it requires patience and some simple ways to measure the progress that can’t be measured in pounds.